Tuesday, May 31, 2011

E-Book of the Week: Chic Ironic Bitterness

Magill, R. Jay. Chic Ironic Bitterness. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2009.

In Chic Ironic Bitterness, author Jay Magill takes a rambling stroll through Western popular and intellectual traditions to discern the origins, purposes, and perception of irony in current culture and individual consciousness. His focus and anchor is recent (post-9/11) American culture, and he is trying to locate both what irony is and what it does. He champions the validity of comedic/political discourse in American popular culture such as The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Simpsons, and The Onion, and makes compelling arguments that satire speaks most effectively to people who have turned ironically ‘inward’ in an effort to hold themselves above the inauthentic mainstream of American culture.

Magill’s prose lurches between the drily academic and the snarkily adolescent, in ways that are sometimes charming and sometimes clumsy, but the overall effect is entertaining, informative, and even thought-provoking. This shelf-life of this sort of cultural argument is brief (it’s only two years old, and some of its references already seem slightly dated), so read it today! Then you can be, like, all ironic and stuff, or whatever.*

*This closing sentence is a self-aware device meant to ironically distance the writer from any earnest conclusions he appears to have reached in the course of the review.**

**This second footnote, like the first, is meant to evoke the multilayered consciousness necessary to maintain an ironic viewpoint – a technique popularized by such popular postmodern authors as David Foster Wallace and Dave Eggers, both of whom are quoted by Magill in his book.Ψ

Ψ Magill likes footnotes. A third footnote on a page, like this one, is a common occurrence in the text.

Previewed by John Breitmeyer, Research and Instruction Librarian/Web Support Specialist. Click here to read this book.

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